Chapter 15 concludes — and also contains in its entirety — a grim period for Chief Wahoo and his charges: the fallow time between pennants, chapters 13 and 14 covering the 1954 season and the Indians’ 111 wins in boisterous fashion and then largely glossing over the ensuing sweep, perhaps framing “the Catch” in such a way as to highlight the publisher’s inclusiveness of diversity or however they put it now, without exploring too deeply how it was the first dagger-blow in a crushing defeat, because we have to be careful about whom we vilify.
As brisk as the autumn air was his step; leaves turned bright hues overhead were little mirrors; Chief Wahoo was on a mission. Others might have worn their determination on their features, but he was forever buoyant. He was not the first to arrive at the meeting hall; in fact, he may have been the last. That was all right; they might not all know that he had called this conclave otherwise. This was important.
All the logos were assembled: Mister Windsor had been driven down from New England; headquarters being in New York, Reb Giovanni was playing host, setting out pastrami and salami, knishes and cannoli; Big Daddy Leon and Bubba Billy-Bob were joshing each other about southern team sympathies; Wang-san and Señor Vato maintained their endless debate on west coast fandom; the great room was churning with voices.
Curtains up on PITCHER, C.S., and CATCHER, crossing to stage left of center.
I want to throw this guy a fastball.
You wanted to throw the first guy a fastball. It still hasn’t landed.
Even all these months later, when I close my eyes at night, safe in the enclosures of our modern city, I can still see their torchlight blazing in the dark, still hear the unearthly echoes of their prehistoric instrumentation. Their chants score my very dreams.
Yes, when my crew and I made landfall; pursuing most harrowing fluvial adventures, hard in the darkness of this timeless recess, furthest from any civilization; we knew not what to make of the alien locals who crept with that uniquely mammalian curiosity toward our dugout canoes — nor they of us. Specimens more unlike have surely not encountered one another beneath the eyes of Heaven!
- …Betty White’s parents were nine years old.
- …the president of the United States was partially blinded in his left eye while fighting a boxing match.
- …the Oval Office (speaking of the White House) didn’t exist.
- …the New York Curb Market was being founded. It’s now the New York Stock Exchange.
- …fewer than a dozen Ford Model T’s had been built.
- …a local inquiry accused obscure faith healer Grigory Rasputin of “kissing and bathing with women.”
- …Russia, Austria-Hungary, Portugal, Italy, and Greece were still monarchies.
- …the first successful visit to the North Pole was ongoing.
- …only one person had ever died in a plane crash.
- …Jimmy Stewart was five months old.
- …Lyndon B. Johnson was six weeks old.
- …Geronimo, Thomas Crapper, Mark Twain, Florence Nightingale, and Leo Tolstoy were alive.
- …the Titanic was being designed.
- …we had only celebrated one Mother’s Day.
- …New Mexico and Arizona were not states.
- …Poland, Ireland, and India were not countries.
- …the Philippines were an American territory.
- …Adolf Hitler was rejected by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts.
- …the Cincinnati Bowling Association feasted on a dinner of “Philadelphia Chicken Flamande,” with a side dish of “maitre d’hotel” and “frozen pudding au kirsch” for dessert.
- …the New York Times had just printed its first mention of burgers, in an article titled “Messenger Stole in the Bank Panic: But His Sudden Wealth Did Phil Sapperstein Not a Bit of Good: No One Would Change $500: And a $500 Bill Was the Smallest He Had–Starved All Night, Then Surrendered the Money.” Yes, it seems, “At 8 o’clock he became hungry. He thought of his home at 227 East Ninety-ninth Street, where there was ready for him steaming, peppered hamburger steak and potatoes. His conscience smote him.”
Little did poor Phil Sapperstein know that his conscience was not the only thing smote in 1908. After he missed his hamburger steak, the Chicago Cubs would never win the World Series again.
Poor Red Sox hitter Mookie Betts watched his golf cart roll into a lake.
But is this the worst baseball-player-caused vehicle mishap in history? Of course not! It’s not even in the top ten!
Top Ten Baseball-Player-Caused Vehicle Mishaps
10. The time Bobby Doerr shouted “Follow that cab!” and the cab in front of him drove off a cliff.
9. When Dick Allen asked to take the team bus for a spin and drove it onto the White House lawn, nearly smooshing Richard Nixon’s pet dog. Continue reading
As most of you are aware, Game 1 of the 2015 World Series (last night, doofus) featured a curious interlude, during which it appeared that play was upheld due to the technical failures of the national broadcast, provided by FOX, home of ruining everything, on the reasoning that MLB was reliant on the technical aspects of said broadcast functioning competently for the purposes of reviewing plays, until the managers of both teams — managers of baseball teams, whom we regularly mock for their foolish decisions, mind you — served as the voices of sagacity and said they’d like to keep playing, please, and they really didn’t mind surrending the privilege of replay, and all that, for fuck’s sakes.
As this year’s action wraps up, we look back to an All-Star contest from a more tumultuous time: the War Years. With so many stars of the Majors on active duty, others were called upon to participate in the Midsummer Classic — and this they did, often with a gusto and gravity that outshone the more leisurely approach of the professional ballplayers. Today we examine the tilt of 1942 in particular: a crucial moment in sporting history. The season had begun rough all around: Germany had struggled through their first road-trip of the year, but as the weather warmed they were picking up steam and looked to roll confidently into the series at Stalingrad behind the bat of Paulus and the glove of von Manstein. Japan, meanwhile, got off to a hot start through the Philippines, but had given up a lot of runs in the games at Midway and lost a key player. America and Britain were endeavoring to reorganize after dropping several North African showdowns in a row, while the USSR braced for the upcoming visit from their longtime foes. But all these plans were put on hold as umpires were summoned from Switzerland and Turkey, and each team’s top performers got together on the diamond. To many, the All-Star game of 1942 was a pivotal point in the rivalry between the Allied and Axis Leagues. Continue reading
Dan Uggla. The name is synonymous with home runs, and not much else, in terms of good things. But this week he’s hit two triples in two days. And here comes another fun fact: Dan Uggla did not always specialize in the long ball.
Today’s entry in the annals of Oddly Satisfying Baseball Trivia:
@ZuckermanCSN FYI…Dan Uggla never hit a HR in Little League. Played for Tennessee Tire in Columbia, TN. Teammate.
— Wilson Gray (@iswilsonalive) April 28, 2015
@ZuckermanCSN Yes. Actually hit his first during all-stars his 12-year old year, but the field had 180-foot fences.
— Wilson Gray (@iswilsonalive) April 28, 2015
No word yet on Dan Uggla’s little league strikeout rate.
READER POLL: Were you a better Little Leaguer than Dan Uggla? If so, what the heck happened to you?
Join us as we dive into the exciting annals of baseball history!
- March 25, 1898: The Cleveland Spiders begin their season with a loss to the New York Metropolitans. The driver of the team train could not find the New York team’s stadium, forcing the Spiders to forfeit to the Metropolitans, a team defunct since 1887.
- March 27, 1991: At a charity luncheon in Pittsburgh, Barry Bonds meets Cecil Fielder for the first time, giving him the nickname “Cecil Fielder.”
- March 24, 1902: St. Louis Brown left fielder Jesse “Crab” Burkett vows to repeat as the National League’s batting champ. Instead, he dies almost immediately, succumbing to heart disease 52 years later.
- March 24, 1956: A 35-year-old Warren Spahn pitches an immaculate inning against the Chicago Cubs.
- March 30, 1940: Bucky Walters, fresh off his Cy Young season, pitches in his final Spring Training game, but tears two ligaments in his left arm. Foregoing surgery, which had yet to be invented, Rogers manages only to pitch 305 innings with a disappointing 2.45 ERA.
- March 27, 1998 As a part of an elaborate fundraising sideshow, Jose Canseco eats a live bear.
- March 29, 2009: Outfielder Matt Joyce hits three triples in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Spiders.
- March 29, 2005: The Mariners’ new third baseman, Adrian Beltre, plays a walk-on role in the off-broadway, one-night-only production of Rocky VI at the Seattle Theater. It receives generally good reviews.
- March 25, 1970: Historians at New York University uncover league rosters and newspaper extracts that conclusively proved Dave Orr did not and never did exist, but rather he was a mascot-type caricature based on the “Milton” character from the movie Office Space.
- March 28, 1998: Jose Canseco creates international buzz after he punches Alrakis, a star visible in the northern hemisphere.
- March 30, 1991: In an interview for the Chicago Tribune, long time Indians manager Lou Boudreau is quoted as saying the “Cleveland Spiders are the league’s best kept secret.” The interview is cut short as a young Bud Selig ushers Bordreau out of the room.
- March 26, 1998: In a Spring Training game, the Toronto Blue Jays hit back-to-back-to-back home runs, all hit be Jose Canseco after he refuses to yield the batter’s box to the on-deck hitters.
- March 25, 1980: After going unsigned in 1979, Neal Cotts is finally born and signed by the Oakland Athletics.
- March 26, 1898: Cleveland Spiders left fielder Jesse “Crab” Burkett writes an op-ed in the Cleveland Sentinel, proposing the New York Metropolitans don’t in fact exist anymore, and that they may never have existed.
- March 27, 1973: A 46-year-old Vin Scully takes batting practice with Los Angeles Dodgers. After hitting two home runs, the famed announcer goes onto the live radio broadcast and — like only Vin Scully can — begins a 15-minute, expletive-filled rant about communism, the Vietnam conflict, and the Internet.
- March 24, 2017: Playing in the final exhibition game of his career, Jose Canseco experiences forearm tightness and is forced to leave the game after 2.1 IP. In the postgame interview, he thanks the Cleveland Spiders for the opportunity, clears his throat, then eats all of space-time.